Céline Dion has a lot to thank her late husband, René Angélil, for. One of the biggest things is helping provide for their three sons.
Another is the fact that he helped manage her career at a very early age. But as it turns out, René is also the main reason why Céline chose to record the song “My Heart Will Go On” for Titanic. It’s baffling to think about what the iconic movie would have been like without it.
It’s not as if Céline needed the hit to make her career. One of her first hits was “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” which came out in 1990. By the time Titanic hit theaters, Céline was already a household name.
Céline offered up the information on Watch What Happens Live. It’s shocking for a few reasons. For one, the dramatic ballad won Céline 10 awards, including the 1998 Academy Award for best original song and the 1999 Grammy Award for song of the year. People couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing it at least once per day — but fans loved it just as much as critics.
The best part of the story is that Céline blamed sleepiness for the reason why she wasn’t into the tune at first. “It didn’t appeal to me,” Dion said, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I was probably very tired that day. I don’t know, very tired.”
That’s when her husband stepped in. René actually started his career as a member of the band Les Baronets, so you can imagine he knew a good tune when he heard one. He was also the first person to discover how talented Céline was, back when she was only 12.
Upon hearing the song, René requested that Céline at least record a demo. It’s almost like he knew that Céline would eventually fall in love with it when she started to sing it. That demo ended up being the actual recording that we know and love today.
“I sang the song once and they built the orchestra around it,” Céline admitted on Watch What Happens Live. “I never resang it for the recording, actually. So the demo is the actual recording, but after that I sang it three gazillion times.”
According to composer James Horner, Céline was the only person he had in mind when it came to “My Heart Will Go On.” It’s pretty obvious that she had the vocal range for the song and could make it her own. James has since died, but he talked to Entertainment Tonight back in the day about what made the song so special.
“In writing the song there was only one person technically that I felt could sing it and I’ve known Celine [Dion] so long,” James said. “I flew to see her and I played the song for her in a room and she loved it.” As the two were close, it’s possible that James helped Céline fall in love with the tune.
Aside from the awards and attention it got, the song had increasingly had special meaning to Céline. After René died in 2016, she sang it as a tribute to him, which added a completely different layer to it. Especially since the love between Céline and René was so pure.
Their love story has been panned by many, who felt as if René took advantage of the much younger Céline. The two met before Céline was even a teenager and had one of the biggest age gaps in Hollywood — 26 years, to be exact. However, Céline has gone on record to say that she’s the one who had the crush.
It’s interesting that Céline would choose that song to honor him, as she’s made it clear that her heart might actually not go on. “I don’t date. I’m not ready to date,” she said to Today back in September, adding, “I’m very lucky and happy to have so many people in my surrounding to make me — they make me laugh.”
While they seem like unlikely soul mates, René had a full life before he met Céline. He was married two times before tying the knot with the singer in 1994, and he already had children. He also suffered from a heart attack in 1991, just a few years after the two started dating.
Even if she’s not open to romantic love at the moment, she hasn’t given up on the idea of love. “I keep my soul and my heart open,” she stated. “Because I am so much (about) love, you know — with my fans and my children and my family. And I feel that love, and it keeps me going. But love, love, love, love, love — the true love, the romance, the romantic love — is not present. But it’s OK.”
It’s possible that even more Titanic tidbits may be revealed soon. Céline is currently making the rounds on talk shows to help support the release of her new album, Courage. Released on November 15, it’s her 12th English-language studio album.
Céline prepared for the big release by debuting three songs early — “Imperfections,” “Lying Down,” and her title track, “Courage.” She’s also supporting the album with a world tour. She’ll be on the road until September 2020.
Does the album include songs that are just as good as “My Heart Will Go On”? Maybe — but since Titanic was the biggest movie of our time, they may not get the same amount of attention. Céline has no problem with creating other soundtrack hits, as she also released the song “Ashes” for Deadpool 2.
Hopefully, Céline has learned that even if a song doesn’t immediately click, it can still be a hit. It’s great to know that “My Heart Will Go On” has been such a meaningful song to her throughout the years. It’s a timeless classic that only gets better with age.